17-Nov-2013 -- This is the first out of 7 reports reaching or attempting confluence points in Botswana. We were able to reach two unvisited confluences. Now 12 out of 51 confluences remain unvisited in Botswana, for the last quarter visits will be a challenge. We did not have a 4x4 vehicle such that we were restricted to public roads. This was the lesson that we learned on our first day while attempting this confluence point.
The location of the confluence is just 130 km north-west from Botswana’s capital city Gaborone. The last 12 km from Letlhakeng to Madiaketso is unpaved, but it is still a good road with hard surface. These circumstances change, when trying to drive the remaining 2.7 km beyond Madiaketso (which is just a collection of 10 houses or so). Google maps shows a direct track along the 24th parallel to the confluence point such that I was focused on driving there. We noticed that there were no fresh tyre tracks in the sand – this should have been a warning to us. 400 m after leaving the public road, we got stuck in the deep and loose sand. Trying to U-turn resulted in wheel spinning such that the car got deeper and deeper in the sand until the underbody hit the sand. We did not have any equipment, not even a shovel, such that it soon became clear that we needed help.
Luckily, we were just 400 m from the road. We walked back in the heat, waited an hour until a public minibus with 15 people stopped. After we had explained our situation, the bus driver did not hesitate long and began to drive along the sand track towards our car! I feared he might get stuck as well, but he was experienced enough, surely able to decide whether this kind of track was doable. With 10 people pushing our car, we were quickly freed and able to get back to the road. I am still overwhelmed how helpful the people in Botswana are. I cannot imagine such help in Europe – a public bus detouring with all passengers inside.
Lesson learned. We now were better able to assess the limits of our car, equipment, and driving skills under sandy condition. I could have simply walked to the Confluence after the car was freed. But we were not in the mood to spend more time there.
CP Visit Details:
- Distance to an asphalt road: 12 km
- Distance to an unpaved road: 3 km
- Time at nearest distance to CP: 1:30 PM
- Measured height: 1100 m
- Minimal distance according to GPS: 2.4 km
- Position accuracy: 5 m
- Topography: mostly flat
- Vegetation: Scattered acacia trees.
- Weather: sunny, 35° C (felt temperature)
- Given Name: The Lesson Learned Confluence
The story continues at 24S 24E.